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I'm a total newbie when it comes to photography, but I want to move beyond the point-and-shoots cameras. Which would you recommend for a new beginner? I'm very drawn to the D3100 because of the discount and freebies. But I hesitate because of its age (~2 yrs old).

Which should I go for and why?

Thanks for your advice!
~ Dan
Wow, that's a lot of information to digest! I can tell you really enjoy photography though-thanks for the help! I must have read your latest post like five times!

Since I'm still I beginner, I have no idea how to operate the camera in A or M mode so I guess I'll leave the purchase of a prime lens for later on.

~ Dan